SciGirls at the Beach with our tour guide, Jessica!
What a splashin' day!
Today, SciGirls 2 went to Panacea, FL, and visited the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab. Upon arrival, we met our tour guide, Jessica, and started to explore the touch tanks in the lab. The first tanks we saw were from the Arthropod phylum, including the Horse Conch, which it's shell, that can grow up to 2 feet, is our Florida State Shell. Who knew? In that area, we also saw a tulip snail interact with a scallop. The scallop can sense it's pray, and when placed by the tulip snail, quickly opens and closes it's shell to "swim" away. We also got to see and hold seastars, urchins, crabs, and sponges.
Then, we made our way over to the looking tanks, where we saw nurse sharks, turtles, and large fish, including trigger fish and goliath grouper, which is an endangered fish. Jessica fed the nurse sharks and discussed how their barbles (like whiskers) help them sense food. We continued on our tour and saw a brown octopus, sting ray, and eels. We learned that the eels have a bacteria on their teeth that makes their bite more painful.
From there, we went to see the sting ray, who made a mighty splash when given food, and lion fish. We learned that lion fish are very invasive because they breed quickly, have no natural predators, are venomous, and they eat a lot. They are becoming popular to eat, and can be purchased at Whole Foods.
We went outside and saw some turtles that are being rehabilitated. We were excited to find out that 4 of the turtles that had been rehabilitated, are being released next Thursday, August 3rd, from Bald Point at 3:00pm.
Before we left the lab for part 2 of our tour, we saw fiddler crabs, which all of our girls fell in love with. We also played with some horseshoe crabs and learned that they have been around for more than 450 million years, even before the dinosaurs! We were amazed to find out that horseshoe crabs have 10 eyes, even some on their tails!
Part 2 of our tour was the "living dock." Here, girls got to pick up stringers and search for critters. They identified and discussed the critters in preparation for part 3 of our tour! Some of the animals we found were decorator crabs, brittle stars, sea squirts, cross jelly, hydroid, needle fish, zebra flat worms, tiny shrimp, and the crum of bread sponge, which smells like garlic!
After our lunch, we began phase 3 of our tour with the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. We went to the marsh where we tried our hands at seine fishing. It was low tide, and the girls were able to wade out pretty far, and were still only up to their knees. When net fishing, we found a few critters, including small comb jellies, needlefish, grass shrimp, several juvenile fish, and a whole lot of fiddler crabs. It was very hard to pry our girls away from the fiddler crabs. We would not be suprised if some of our SciGirls brought home a pet fiddler!
Today was another wonderful SciGirls day! It's so hard to believe there is only one day left! Tomorrow, we take on some archeaology and research careers of interest and how to prepare for them, as our girls continue their education in high school and college.
Don't forget about the reception tomorrow night to close out another fabulous SciGirls summer! See you all at 5:00 at wFSU, the program begins at 5:30!